You Might Know . . . (Homophily)

Below is an interesting article on homophily published by the New York Times in 2006. In essence, the Times looks at the many topics homophily is being used to interrogate (dating, friendship circles, buying preferences) and how social networks were using homophily on their sites. The article concludes by questioning if homophily on the Internet was positive and offers an alternative site which aims to put people who do not have much in common together.

Nine years later, we still see social networks using homophily; especially Twitter and Facebook with their “You Should Follow” and “You May Also Know” features. These features not only connect you with people you know, but also make it more likely for you to continue to use the social network as it will consistently be updated with information that is relevant to your real life. While using social media to meet people with different interests sounds interesting, constantly having updates about people you don’t know or have little to nothing in common with does not seem like it will keep your interest. Moreover, dating someone who has little in common with you also seems unappealing. In many ways, it’s homophily that has allowed social networks to work. They have found ways to connect you with people you already know or those with similar interests.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/10/magazine/10Section2a.t-4.html?_r=0

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One thought on “You Might Know . . . (Homophily)”

  1. Great insight into how online social networks are using homophily to their advantage, and why it is so successful. The interesting thing is how online social networks are using homophily in their new tools to connect individuals. These sites have learned how to use homophily as a science in order to increase their usage. They use the data they collect on individuals to feed them information that will satisfy their desire for homophily. This alone shows how important homophily is for these sites and social networks in general. One of the main reasons, I believe that homophily is so important is because it allows us to make a connection with someone that we may hardly know. These connections allow for us to feel at ease with unknown individuals and willing to build relationships. On the other hand if this connection is not prevalent then most individuals will look for someone else to build a relationship with. This is why it is likely that sites that attempted to connect individuals with different interests were not very successful. They attempted to do something that did not come naturally to most individuals.

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